How to Recover from Overtraining

If you workout too often, overtraining can become a problem for your body. It is extremely important for your muscles to get the proper amount of rest in order to give your body time to repair them. However, if you have recently pushed your body too hard or you are on the brink of overtraining, you may be wondering how to recover. There are some relatively simple steps that you can follow to make sure that overtraining does not become a hazard.

Rest Your Body Frequently

If you have not yet suffered from overtraining, now is the time to make sure that you’re taking care of your body properly. You should make sure that you are giving your body enough rest each week. Generally, your body should get one day of rest for every two days of exercise. This means that at least two or three times every week, you should abstain from working out altogether. This allows your muscles to grow stronger over time. In many cases, rest is actually better for your muscles than a workout.

Rest for Long Periods of Time

Every now and then, your body needs an extended break from exercise to make a full recovery. Even if you give your body a few days every week to rest, there’s a good chance your muscles aren’t fully repaired the next time you exercise. Try giving your body a string of eight to ten days every few months in order to give it the chance to recover fully. During this time, you should avoid working out. If you do have to work out, try doing some light cardio so that you still get the advantages of resting your body without putting it through a strenuous workout.

Eat Properly and Get Enough Sleep

Often, overtraining results from pushing yourself too hard. But the wrong diet and a lack of sleep can also play a part. The food that you take in helps your body to repair your muscles. Likewise, getting the proper amount of sleep gives it the time it needs to make repairs and rest your muscles. If you’re trying to recover from overtraining, you’ll need plenty of nutritious foods and plenty of sleep in order to get your muscles healthy again.

Start Working Out Slowly

After a period of overtraining, the last thing you want to do is work your body too hard again. To avoid it, get back into your workout routine when you are fully recovered. You can do this by engaging in lighter workouts at first. As you progress, you can start engaging in harder workouts again. Just make sure that you get enough rest on your off days to rest your muscles. Also, try switching up your workouts when you start to feel like you are overtraining. Swimming can replace running, while cardio can replace weight training. Just make sure you do your part to prevent overtraining.

7 Possible Signs of Overtraining

Unquenchable Thirst
Sure, you’re thirsty when you’re working out, but are you still thirsty long afterward? If so, it might be due to overtraining. “Your body might be in a catabolic state — that means breaking down tissue — and sometimes we don’t even know why that’s happening,” says Stark. That breakdown of tissue places more demand on your body overall, which includes a greater need for hydration.

One of the most effective ways to halt this breakdown is by consuming a combination of carbohydrates and protein (found in products like Beachbody Performance Recover) during the first 30 to 60 minutes following exercise.

Having trouble falling or staying asleep? Insomnia can impact anyone, but if you fear that you’re training too hard and you’re having trouble sleeping, you might have your answer. “It’s not energy where you can stay up and do things, it’s not that wonderful feeling of fatigue when you can fall right asleep,” says Dr. Stark. “It’s neither.”

Low Sex Drive
You should feel like a sexual tyrannosaurus after a good workout, right? Maybe not, especially if you’ve entered a catabolic state owed to overtraining. Dr. Stark likens it to studying for an exam: “You can get diminishing returns; it becomes counterproductive to work out.” This describes overtraining in general, but when it comes to your sex drive, “enjoyment of anything is going to be thrown off if you’re in a catabolic state.”

Frequent Illness
A good workout helps to elevate your immune system. However, too much working out, or working out too hard can lead to a suppressed immune response and more frequent illness. This again can relate to the catabolic state, but it might have another, more complex answer to do with something called cytokines, of which your body is either producing too many or not enough. Regardless of the cause, Dr. Stark says, “It certainly makes sense that when you’re in a state of oxidative stress that it’s not going to be able to fight infections as well.”

If you’ve never had trouble with headaches in the past, but all of a sudden you’re experiencing minor headaches or even migraines, overtraining might be the culprit. Dr. Stark says that many times this is a secondary symptom related to suppressed immune system, dehydration, a lack of focus, or depression.

Changes in Personality
Depression is a widely recognized sign of overtraining. Lesser known is that any wild personality changes can be among the symptoms of overtraining. You might feel irritable or depressed, or suddenly find that you have difficulty focusing. Dr. Stark points out that there can be cyclical, self-reinforcing aspects to many of these symptoms. “You can’t sleep, you’re getting frequently ill and injured, you’re not able to perform at the gym — the harder you try, the worse you do, you’re less productive at work, you can’t concentrate.” All of that can lead to personality changes.

Fitness Plateaus
If you’ve plateaued, the answer might be to back off a bit, not to go even harder. Muscle tears are a big part of getting bigger. Overtraining, however, can mean that you’re just tearing them open again and again. Remember: muscle growth happens during rest, not during training. Dr. Stark says this is one of the early signs of overtraining.